Since it began in 1987 the Civil War Trust has helped
preserve more than 30,000 acres at 110 battlefields in 20 states and the Trust
hopes to continue its work by offering teachers a two-week curriculum on the
“We’re really creating the next generation of historians,”
Mary Koik, deputy communications director, said. “We’re creating the next
generation of history teachers and preservationists and people that are going
to safeguard these places that our generation has worked to protect.”
Moorefield High School English teacher Jeremy Simmons plans
to use some of the curriculum in a few weeks when his 11th grade
students read literature from the Civil War era.
“Just to let them know what’s going on, what issues are
involved, why did these authors like Mary Chestnut, Frederick Douglas, Abe
Lincoln, Steven Crane, Walt Whitman, what was going on in their lives that
would make them write the things that they write,” Simmons said.
Simmons has been interested in the War since he was a child.
He said learning more about the time period not only helps his students analyze
the literature they’re reading but it also helps them learn more about history.
“I’ve always said that the best way to study history is
through the literature that was written during that time,” Simmons said. “It
focuses less on dates and battles and things like that but more toward what the
real people were really thinking and what was going on in society, the thoughts
and actions of specific people and cultures.”
Simmons said his students particularly enjoy seeing 3D
images taken during the Civil War that are available on the Trust’s web site. 70
percent of the photos taken during the war were shot in 3D so they could be
viewed in a device called a stereoscope.
“And that’s something that blows most students minds,” Koik
said. “They went and they saw "Avatar" and they thought that was
amazing, well in the 1860’s that’s how these pictures were designed to be
Koik said the Trust has been working with the Center for
Civil War Photography to make the 3D pictures available on-line as slide shows.
“And we work with teachers to help them get 3D glasses so
they can show these kids how sometimes the past isn’t all that different from
the present,” Koik said.
The curriculum offers two weeks worth of lessons for
students in elementary, middle and high school. It’s available on-line or
schools can purchase a hard copy from the Civil War Trust.